10 Nigerian-owned Lagos Restaurants Killing It
FOLLY: A couple weeks ago, I got some feedback that a couple of lists that we had we had written on the blog in recent times didn’t feature any Nigerian owned restaurants. Internally, in my mind I was defensive but then I spoke about it with my friend I was dining with at the time and we REALLY thought about it then I conceived the idea to write this post.
I realized that truth be told, most of the serious restaurants in Lagos are foreign owned, Lebanese to be precise. In the past 10 to 20 years, they’ve tended to take restaurateur-ing as a business seriously. In contrast, when most Nigerians opened restaurants it was usually a passion project or opened by a wealthy husband to keep his wife busy.
NOSA: ...or a front to launder money.
This doesn’t mean the foreign-owned restaurants don’t have the same agendas, they usually do. What sets them apart is how much the owners actually care about the business. If you’re going to be a fraudulent front, might as well do it to the best of your ability.
FOLLY: This is changing, and if Eat.Drink.Lagos is to be on the pulse of the Nigerian restaurant scene, we should recognize it and also celebrate it. That was the conclusion between my friend and I's discussion. Over dinner, we came up with the following list of Nigerian owned restaurants that are killing it and for all intents and purposes look like they are here to stay in 2018 and beyond.
NOSA: In alphabetical order
1. BBQ & Cravings
Olumide’s passion resonates throughout his entire establishment. Even if you don’t know him personally and have just met him a couple of times like we have, you’d know that there’s a little piece of him in every single menu item at his spot.
2. Hans & Rene
The owner, fondly known as Mrs. B is insanely creative and detail oriented. She also has this spirit which one can define as “possibility” because she consistently makes things possible and doesn’t take no for an answer.
3. HSE Gourmet Cuisine
HSE is a charm in the middle of Lekki. In Lagos where restaurants without any clear inspiration are far too common, Chef Nkesi’s Asian inspiration that weaves together HSE’s menu is well appreciated.
4. La Brioche
We've never been to La Brioche and not seen the owner right in there working alongside her staff. That’s the kind of dedication that’s needed to survive as a restaurant business in Lagos against all odds (staff, electricity, high costs, government etc).
5. Nok by Alara
Our favorite thing about Nok is that they are constantly innovating and keeping things new and fresh. The restaurant is about two years old now but it still feels like that new IT restaurant that opened last month.
Most people may be familiar with the Nuli story, but for those that aren’t let’s recap. Their one store was demolished without prior warning in September 2016 but the founder didn’t give up and a year later in 2017, they have grown to four outlets. In spite of the horror of the sheer injustice, the management was resilient and committed to growing the brand and staying in business.
7. Orchid Bistro
Orchid Bistro is slowly becoming a Lagos institution. With their second outlet in Ikoyi, Orchid Bistro is cementing their place as a Lagos OG restaurant.
8. Yellow Chili
This is one of the first Nigerian restaurants we remember. Some complain that the quality has waned but even more still sing mighty praises to their name. My (Folly) gut tells me that they’ll be around for a while.
9. Urban Fuxion
Urban Fuxion was not the first food truck in Nigeria but without a doubt the most successful. It might have seemed like a ludicrous idea to most when they launched with a massive and pretty expensive (according to word on the street) truck in 2015. Two years on, they now have a second one and you’d be hard pressed to find any major food event in Lagos where they aren’t present.
We're not including them on this list because they're still fairly young establishment, but all the signs for long term success are there. Their progression from blog to brick & mortar has been remarkable.